JUNEAU – A bill legalizing industrial hemp production unanimously passed the Alaska State Senate on Mon., April 10.
Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer), defines hemp as an agricultural product and removes it from the state’s list of controlled substances.
“The commercial possibilities of hemp are numerous and versatile,” Sen. Hughes said. “Hemp can be used for fiber products, such as clothing and paper, as well as for building materials and insulation, among thousands of other products.”
Industrial hemp has been grown in the United States since the first European settlers arrived in the early 1600s. An early draft of the Declaration of Independence was penned on hemp paper and even founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams grew hemp and advocated for its commercial production. Industrial hemp was a staple crop of 19th century America. In Alaska, there are references to the growing of hemp in the early 20th century.
“Local farmers asked me to consider carrying this legislation so they can use hemp for nutritious animal feed,” Sen. Hughes said. “Hemp oil also continues to be researched for its medical possibilities including treatment for those suffering from epilepsy and other diseases.”
Industrial hemp is defined as the plant Cannabis Sativa L, the same plant as what is commonly referred to as marijuana, but with a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) level of 0.3 percent or lower. THC is the intoxicant component of the Cannabis Sativa L plant, and numerous scientific studies have shown the intoxication threshold as 1 percent. Clearly, the definition of hemp in this bill is well below these levels, according to Hughes. This definition of hemp is in accordance with the federal 2014 Farm Bill and the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2016, which allows for the transportation, processing and sale of hemp from compliant programs.
SB 6 is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for consideration.
For more information, contact Buddy Whitt in Senator Hughes’ office at 907-465-5265.
Editor’s Note: Daniel McDonald is the communications director for the Alaska Senate Majority. Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-District F, represents Butte, Chugiak, Eklutna, Lazy Mountain, Palmer and Peters Creek.